HC Deb 12 February 1953 vol 511 cc568-9
2. Mr. Hale

asked the President of the Board of Trade the policy of the Government with regard to the continued increase in total unemployment in Lancashire.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

While I know, of course, and regret that there has been some increase in the number of people wholly unemployed in Lancashire since mid 1952, I am glad to say that unemployment as a whole in Lancashire began to decrease from that time. The number of people out of work—both wholly unemployed and temporarily stopped— was 76,000 in January, 1953, compared with 136,000 in May, 1952. We shall continue to take measures, including those which I announced on 29th October, 1952, to deal with the increase in the number of those wholly unemployed.

Mr. Hale

When he gives the figures in future, will the right hon. Gentleman compare the figures of employment when this Government came into office, with those before they had mucked up the textile industry and caused such a frightful disaster? Will he also bear in mind that the really tragic figure, the important figure, is the number of those who have been wholly unemployed for more than six weeks? That is the figure which is constantly and steadily growing.

Mr. Thorneycroft

If the hon. Gentleman, and those of his hon. Friends who are closely concerned with that industry, will study the history of the last year in Lancashire he will agree that forces far wider than mere party political forces are responsible.

Mr. Osborne

Would my right hon. Friend confirm that it was not this Government that mucked up the Lancashire textile industry? A United Nations report for the 12 months before the last Government went out of office said that the textile industry of the whole world was suffering and that it was a world problem and nothing to do with this or the previous Government.

Mr. Thorneycroft

It is true to say, as hon. Gentlemen know, that the recession in textiles was world-wide in its incidence, and, indeed, started before this Government took office.